March 2010 Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

March 5, 2010

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March 2010 is an odd little month, with two big, family-oriented blockbusters bookending an otherwise frankly second-tier batch of releases (at least when it comes to box office - and does anything else really matter?). Although you never know about some of these titles - as we have all learned this past year, the box office can come up and bite you on the bee-hind when you least expect it.

1. How to Train Your Dragon (March 26th)

Yet another chapter in this year's cinematic showcase of various mythological beasties, this one courtesy of DreamWorks and the co-directors/writers of Lilo & Stitch. The voice cast matches Gerard Butler with some of the Apatow regulars (Baruchel, Wiig, Mintz-Plasse), and adds Craig Ferguson in for good measure, too. It's a combination that's evidently so intimidating that even Clash of the Titans delayed its release for a week, apparently fleeing with its tail between its Kraken's tentacles. Look, I'll be honest here - these CGI movies all look just about the same to me; they all get praised incessantly and make a ton of money, and have little to no discernible effect but the monotony of having to observe them do it. Indeed, How to Train Your Dragon is obviously being set up as the first big CGI hit of 2010, so who am I to deny that this will invariably be the case?

Opening weekend: $62 million / Total gross: $170 million


2. Alice In Wonderland (March 5th)

Tim Burton's back with another stylistically outrageous fairy tale, a film that basically follows the formula that made Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory such a massive summer hit in 2005. The cast is full of Burton's usual rogues gallery - Johnny Depp, Crispin Glover, and Helena Bonham Carter (now far removed from her previous home in 19th century melodramas), with Anne Hathaway looking like a very at-home addition to the mix. On a sour note, critical appraisal seems more token than enthusiastic this time around, and the story possibly appeals more to girls than boys. Alice is also unreservedly weird, which I thought could cost it some capital - but then again, Charlie '05 was weirder still, and look how far that one got. On the plus side, Alice is in 3D, a statement that will soon be true of anything remotely resembling a would-be summer blockbuster (don't worry, us non-3D fans can always fall back on movies like... Dear John, and uh, the one with John Travolta and the goatee and, uh...).

Opening weekend: $44 million / Total gross: $144 million

3. The Last Song (March 31st)
A city girl is uprooted to an apparently slow-paced country lifestyle, giving her a chance to reconnect with her distant father and entertain the courtships of the local male underwear model. Sound familiar? I would hope it does not, because that was the premise of last year's Hannah Montana: The Movie, and it's the game plan this time around, too. Miley Cyrus seems to be replaying the careers of former teen queens Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan, but on a scale that's about three times as lucrative (and that's no wonder, since she now has so little competition). Anyway, this particular nugget's been assembled like a class-A star vehicle package, with glossy direction, good-looking cinematography, and a script based on a book by that Dear John-writing master of tears, Nicholas Sparks (and yes, since this is Sparks, one of the main characters does bite the dust ahead of the normal U.S. life expectancy for their gender and age group; watch the trailer and use the process of elimination to figure out who's the one). What else is there to say, really? It's going to be a very good year for Sparks, and for Cyrus.

Opening weekend: $40 million (five-day) / Total gross: $99 million

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